Sometimes one has to wonder exactly who is benefiting from certain bureaucracy. The Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism has agreed with his staff who have refused a 53 year old woman citizenship as she does not have documentary proof that she speaks English. This despite the fact that she was born and bred in Yorkshire, has lived in British Columbia for 33 years. She has two adult, English speaking, Canadian children; she went to school in England and she can only speak one language – English!

Citizenship Limited, owners of the only online video course specifically designed to help potential citizens through the difficult Life in the UK Test (www.lifeinukthetest.co.uk), have learned that the Canadian authorities flatly refuse Karen Strachan’s protests that she is obviously able to speak English . They want documentary evidence of a qualification such as an ESOL certificate, something that she cannot obtain from her school as it doesn’t exist any more! She also does not have her original landing papers as they were replaced by the government after 9/11 by a permanent landing card, but the authorities refused to accept a photocopy of the original.

Her only alternative, which she appears to have rejected as a matter of principal, is for her to attend a testing centre at a cost of $295 for a full day’s test.

The minister, although apologetic that Mrs. Strachan is having to be faced with this hassle, justifies it by stating that no-one is exempt from having to prove their ability to speak English, even if they come from an English speaking country.